Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reactions to Top Chef All Stars Finale Part 1

The remaining cheftestants reconvened in the Bahamas for the beginning of the final elimination rounds. Carla, Richard, Antonia, Mike, and Tiffany arrived at an old fort on the island to get caught up on what's happened to them since New York. Then they headed into the fort where they saw the winners of their original seasons on Top Chef waiting for them. Padma explained that the cheftestants would have to go head-to-head in a cook-off with the winners of their respective seasons, and each winner would receive $10,000. To judge the competition, Padma and Tom were joined by Eric Ripert.

Everyone gathered around their makeshift cooking stations set up in the fort and dug into boxes filled with their theme ingredients. The players and proteins broke out like this:

Season Four - Richard and Antonia against Stephanie Izard using veal
Season Five - Carla against Hosea Rosenberg using lamb
Season Six - Mike against Michael Voltaggio using duck
Season Seven - Tiffany against Kevin Sbraga using pork

The chefs scrambled around in the tropical heat for 40 minutes and then tasting and judgment commenced. Tiffany's dish beat out Kevin's, but Hosea squeezed out a win against Carla. Mike beat out the formidable Michael Voltaggio. With a three-way competition, Antonia's dish was compared to Stephanie's first, with Stephanie getting the upper hand. However, when her dish was compared to Richard's, Richard ultimately won the round.

On to the Elimination Round, Padma explained that the chefs would have to cook a meal for Bahamian royalty. They went back to their plush digs at The Cove at the Atlantis to plot and plan. Then they were sent to the kitchen  for 2 1/2 hours of prep. When the cooking and packing was over, they received a police escort to the venue. Instead of arriving at a palace, however, the chefs were dropped off at Twin Brothers Seafood and Steakhouse where they were greeted by a Junkanoo street band and "The King of Junkanoo." He's royalty because he's called the king, get it? Oy!

Anyway, the chefs shoehorn themselves into the limited kitchen at Twin Brothers to put their dishes together. Not long into the one hour cooking time, one of the deep fryers began to smoke and eventually caught fire. Everyone was evacuated while the fire department put out the flames. With the food contaminated by the extinguishing chemicals, the chefs were forced to start all over.

Because of the set back, some of the chefs chose to change their dishes, including Antonia who decided  to drop her lamb dish for shrimp and grits, which was out of her comfort zone. Carla stuck with pork, but decided to deep fry it, which left the middle raw in spots.

With cooking finally over, the Junkaroo band members and the "King" sat down to enjoy the meal while Padma, Tom, Eric Ripert, and Gail Simmons ate and judged. They found fault with most of the dishes, but Mike's sous vide chicken with mushrooms, yams, and lobster hash was deemed the winner, mainly because of his lobster sauce. Richard's roasted lamb loin was also well received, although Eric found his turnip cannelloni too soft. Tiffany's pork tenderloin was called too simple and too dry, and Antonia's move to shrimp and grits was a failure because the stringy pulled pork she mixed in with the grits undermined the creamy texture. Carla's undercooked pork was the big failure of the night, however, with sweet potato and apple accompaniments that made it far too sweet for an entree. Carla was the first to get kicked off the island.

Should Carla have gotten the boot? Was Tiffany or Antonia more deserving of a plane ride home? Who might go all the way? Share your thoughts below.


Anonymous said...

this was a real nail-biter. very sorry to see carla go - she is a top chef comrade more than a top chef competitor - and embues the kitchen with humanity not hubris. love to see her with her own show.

Marsha said...

This was a tough one. Hate to see Carla go. Wish Tiffany would be a little braver. And clearly Mike is on a roll. I just hope he doesn't get under Richard's skin. I don't know why I believe this since I haven't tasted any of these folks' food, but I believe Richard is the best chef.

Marsha said...

I missed part of the show, about announcing they cheftestants would cook for royalty - but there is no Bahamaian royalty. I'm surprised none of them said, "wait a minute - is there a King of the Bahamas? I don't think so..."

Rachel said...

Carla going home was ridiculous! It wasn't a fair challenge. It would be great to actually see the contestants compete when they're all at their best, but it seems Bravo is determined to add unnecessary drama so we can watch talented people make bad food.
Was the fire even an accident?

grumpygranny said...

I will SO miss Carla. The challenge was definitely tough, especially the grease fire. I had the EXACT same thing happen to me when I was cooking in a restaurant in New Orleans, and we had to close down the kitchen and re-open that night with a VERY limited menu thanks to the fire extinguisher system. No fun and I totally sympathized with all the contestants.